Author: Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Noah Homes
Rating: 5.00 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 05/26/2016
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Young Adult
When Charlie was eight years old, his mum bought him a microscope for his birthday. Since then, he’s known how he wants to spend his life. There have been trials, and challenges, but now – finally – the day is here for him to start college with his lifelong friend Anthony Pace.
Anthony is a red-haired force of nature. He writes poetry about their enemies and eagerly participates in all Charlie’s science experiments without understanding a word. Every morning, he waits at the end of their street so they can get the bus together.
But things are changing.
Families are important, and complex. Charlie’s mum hasn’t been well, and his relationship with Anthony begins to shine like a different star in the sky.
Can everything come together in this explosion of physics and chemicals that Charlie calls life? Will Anthony Pace ever share his poems with the world, and can the Chihuahua, Princess Arabella, ever learn to stop licking?
WARNING: includes moderately explicit scenes of intimacy between consenting young adult males.
I wanted to hug this book, it was that good.
Charlie Woods and Anthony Pace have been friends for a long time. They are seemingly ordinary young men, about to go off to college and fulfil their dreams. For Charlie his dream is to cure disease, to fight the bacteries (bacteria) that he discovered in a moment of wonder and revelation when he was given his first microscope. For Anthony the dream is poetry.
The authors tell their story with great sympathy, subtlety, skill, and humanity. Brief flashbacks show us moments in the lives of the young Charlie and Anthony as they grow up, and grow together. Their school lives are a battle, both are square pegs that will never fit in, but they accept bad teachers and bullies as the natural obstacles of their lives. Sometimes they manage to fight back, with poetry or science as their weapons.
As the story develops the reader sees the warm and loving relationship Charlie has with his mother. Alice is always there for Charlie, refuses to slap a label on him, and simply loves him. And of course there is the close friendship between Anthony and Charlie. It is clearly love in all but name.
With the world about to open for him and college waiting, Charlie finds himself unable to step through the door. His mother is ill and growing worse. Her illness isn’t directly named for a time, instead the reader is shown her deterioration, and its affect on Charlie. Charlie has to try and balance college, and being a carer, and his relationship with Anthony Pace. Something has to break.
In other hands this story could have been a depressing read, instead it is funny, wonderful, touching, and beautifully told. I was by turns smiling, laughing, getting weepy, and cheering for Anthony and Charlie.
This YA novella is a love story, about all kinds of love: family love, childhood devotion, friendship, and discovering adult love. I wanted to hug Charlie’s mother, I wanted to hug the young Charlie and Anthony, and I wanted to hug the wonderful young men they grew up to be, yes, I wanted to hug this book.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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